The Purpose of the TLC Diet
Heart disease is known as the silent killer for a very good reason, developing over long periods of time and only displaying symptoms once it’s too late. While we can’t exactly create a foolproof shield from it, there are plenty of methods which we can use to stack the odds in our favor.
Along with regular exercising, a healthy diet is without a doubt the most important thing to have in your corner, especially if heart disease runs in the family. However, as a society we’ve shunned health foods away over the past decades in favor of artery-clogging fast foods, to the point where we even observe the phenomenon of food deserts in some parts of the United States.
Long story short, eating right is mandatory if you’re looking to stay healthy and stave off all the illnesses that come along with questionable nutrition… but as with most things in life, that’s much easier said than done.
Unless you’re willing to hire a nutritionist to create a specific meal plan tailored to your particular needs (which can burn a hole in your wallet), then coming up with the right nutrition program by yourself will take a lot of trial and experimentation.
Naturally, there is always another solution to the conundrum, and in this case it consists of finding a pre-made dieting program designed with your general goals in mind. Now, if you want to go on a diet to lower your cholesterol so as to lessen your risk of heart disease and stroke, then the TLC diet should be the first one you consider for those are its exact goals.
A Closer Look at the TLC Diet
To begin with, TLC stands for Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes and it’s not one of those mad diets that have you eating two hundred calories a day or rolling on the floor in delirium from malnutrition.
Its primary goal isn’t to make you look better or help you lose weight, but to really turn you into a healthier person who will live longer. More specifically, it seeks to change the types of fats you consume and help you limit yourself in that regard. Additionally, it cuts down on the foods that are high in cholesterol, replacing them with much lighter alternatives.
If you’d prefer to look at things from a numbers perspective, the American College of Cardiology has issued a statement claiming that with the TLC diet, you:
• Never eat more than 200 milligrams of cholesterol on a daily basis, and that’s accomplished by limiting your intake of egg yolks, dairy products, shellfish, red meat and poultry .
• Obtain less than 7% of your calories from saturated fat, meaning it calls for a drastic decrease in the consumption of butter, shortening, dairy and animal fats.
• Get around 30% of your daily calories from unsaturated fats which are good for your health, stemming primarily from olive, canola, safflower, peanut, corn and sunflower oils .
• Stay away from trans fats completely, avoiding foods such as crackers, cookies, snack foods and vegetable shortening.
How the Diet Works
Instead of giving you a very concrete plan that tells you exactly what to eat, when and how much, the TLC diet is more like a set of guidelines than anything else, and it’s up to you to include them in your daily routine, no matter what it may be.
While this approach does require some autonomy and self-discipline on your behalf, it ends up being infinitely better than a diet with a strict timetable because it offers some invaluable flexibility.
We all lead different lives with our specific daily routines and most diets that ask you to follow a special schedule often fail because of that reason. With the TLC diet, you don’t impose it on your daily routine as much as you merge the two together.
The rules themselves are incredibly simple as they group foods together and tell you how much you can eat per day from each one. Thankfully, it’s all available for free, and so what follows are the TLC diet guidelines:
• The first group is comprised of poultry, fish, lean meat, dry beans and dry peas. You are allowed to eat no more than 5 ounces of lean meat, poultry or fish per day and can substitute half a cup of cooked beans or peas for two ounces of meat.
• The second group is composed of low-fat milk and milk products. You are allowed two to three servings a day, preferably split into one cup of nonfat yogurt, one cup of fat-free milk, and one ounce of low-fat cheese.
• As far as eggs are concerned they have their own group, and you’re allowed to eat no more than 2 egg yolks a week, but there are no limits in regards to egg whites.
• For fruits it’s recommended you get two to four servings per day, with one apple or orange, one cup of berries (a melon is also acceptable), and no more than half a cup of canned fruits.
• When it comes to vegetables you’ll want to make sure you’re getting three to five servings every day. You should eat at least 1 cup of raw leafy greens, half a cup of raw or cooked vegetables, and three-quarters of a cup of vegetable juice.
• Following that we have cereal, bread, rice, pasta and other grains, and the guidelines say you’re supposed to get at least six servings of those per day. You shouldn’t eat more than a slice of bread or half a bagel, hamburger bun or English muffin. One ounce of cold cereal and half a cup of cooked pasta, rice or other grains should be your limit.
• Finally, we have the sweets and snacks, and contrary to what you would expect there is only one rule: make sure they are low in fat or are made from unsaturated fats. It goes without saying that you still shouldn’t abuse them.
To cap things off, I feel the need to add that while the diet can indeed prove to be a great boon that leads to a healthier lifestyle, it’s equally important to remain physically active to actually reap the full benefits from it.
Being healthy isn’t the kind of goal you can achieve once and forget about, but rather a state of being you must always strive for; eating right and exercising are unavoidable necessities to get there, and the TLC diet can greatly help you manage the nutrition aspect.